I have played dynasty fantasy baseball for nearly 10 years now, and it is far and away my favorite format for any fantasy sport. Thankfully there are more resources available than there had been years ago, but still nowhere near ideal for those trying to do some research prior to their startup drafts or replenishment drafts.
Elite prospects like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. appear to be can’t-miss players and while they may not be worth an extremely early-round pick; much like the Bryce Harper and Mike Trout drafts years back, Vlad Jr. should be a top-five pick especially if you are in a startup league. However, just be sure to keep expectations for this year in check since no one really knows when to expect him to make his major league debut.
Age is another major factor. Is a pitcher who is up there in age, like Max Scherzer (34), the bona fide No. 1 pitcher in a dynasty league? For one more season sure, maybe even two, but passing on Blake Snell, Aaron Nola, Jose Berrios for Scherzer or Clayton Kershaw (who already has injury concerns before the season begins) will force you into "win now" mode immediately. Thankfully, trades are always a possibility and it is easier to get pieces for the future rather than trying to get equal value, or win the trade as you would in seasonal leagues.
Every league is different of course, as you also have standard seasonal leagues, head to head, rotisserie, points leagues, and even auction formats when it comes to draft options, and likewise strategies. Relying strictly on rankings is not always ideal, especially if they aren't tailored for a specific format, but in dynasty leagues some of the keys include finding that balance between young and old, and knowing when it is time to rebuild or go for the gold.
For example, trading prospects for veterans is a common approach as rebuilding teams want youth and more draft picks, or money. On the other side, contenders want depth, pitching help, etc.
Dynasty rankings typically don't change a great deal once the season starts, unless there's a significant injury. Unlike seasonal leagues (particularly redraft), even if a top pitching prospect in AAA has to undergo Tommy John surgery that does not necessarily result in him being removed from dynasty rankings. It will necessitate a drop in the rankings, but the potential reflected in the initial placement is still there, even if the risk is increased.
Consider the case of Lucas Giolito. A few years back as he was making his way up in the Washington Nationals' system he labeled a top-20 prospect. He was then the big piece in the December 2016 trade that went to the Chicago White Sox for Adam Eaton and after an encouraging '17 debut, he posted a 6.13 ERA in 32 starts last season. He may not even make the top 500 these days.
So you have the patience, like to play the projection game, and pay a little attention to what's happening down on the farm, dynasty may be the format for you. If so, hopefully these rankings can help you either get started with a solid foundation for a new team or reinforce the current roster you already have. Be sure to bookmark this page, as I plan on updating these rankings regularly leading up to Opening Day.
— Rankings by Chris Meyers, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the FSWA. Meyers' work appears on many other sites, including socalledfantasyexperts.com. Follow him on Twitter @FantsyChillpony.